Turkmen, US officials discuss widening co-operation on host of issues



A delegation from Turkmenistan headed by Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov (not shown) confers with US Department of State officials on November 20 in Washington. [Turkmen Foreign Ministry]

WASHINGTON -- A delegation from Turkmenistan headed by Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov held consultations with the US Department of State on Wednesday (November 20) in Washington.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells represented the US side, according to the Turkmen Foreign Ministry.

The two sides exchanged views on Turkmen-US issues and noted the importance of political consultations.

The officials reiterated their commitment to widening their relationship in political, trade-economic, cultural-humanitarian and other spheres.

Turkmenistan is one of three Central Asian states that border Afghanistan and is facing growing issues related to returning members of the "Islamic State" (IS) from the Middle East, and how to deal with radicalisation among its population.

The country also has the world's fourth largest natural gas reserves. The United States and European Union have eyed it as a potential competitor to Russia in exporting natural gas to Europe.

Turkmenistan has met stiff opposition and subterfuge to its energy ambitions from the Kremlin.

Earlier this year, Turkmenistan was forced by Russia -- its former coloniser -- to accept an insultingly low price for its main export, natural gas.

After more than a three-year-long Russian boycott of Turkmen gas caused by a "dispute over prices and payments", Turkmen deliveries of gas to Russia resumed April 15.

Moscow also joined the Iranian regime recently in opposing the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, a proposed undersea pipeline between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.

The main goal of the project is to transport natural gas from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to Turkey and the rest of Europe, bypassing both Russia and Iran.

Fearing competition in the gas market, the Russian and Iranian regimes have long opposed the supply of Turkmen gas to Azerbaijan and then to southern Europe via the TANAP (Trans Anatolian) and TAP (Trans-Adriatic) gas pipelines.

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